Prime Minister Hubert A Ingraham (centre) arrives for the opening of the CHA Marketplace on Paradise Island. Pictured at left is Minister of Tourism and Aviation Neko Grant, and Alec Singuinetti, the CHA’s Director General and Chief Executive Officer. (Photo by Derek Smith)
By: Gladstone Thurston
NASSAU, Bahamas – Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham opened the Caribbean Hotel Association’s three-day Marketplace at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Sunday night.
Caribbean Marketplace is the most important tourism marketing event of the year for the Caribbean. This marks the second time it was held in The Bahamas.
In delivering the keynote address, Prime Minister Ingraham said the Caribbean must come to terms with the growth in cruise tourism.
“It is, I believe, a critical and essential element of our tourism product,” he said. “Increasingly popular with young professionals, families and retired persons, cruise tourism can play an important economic role in bolstering retail business and increasing demand for excursions and local attractions.
“Our response to cruise tourism’s growth must be to develop new and imaginative ways to have cruise tourism complement our land-based resources, including renewed programmes to convert cruise vacationers to return land-based guests.
“This is especially important since land-based operators, with higher operating costs and with limited flexibility to vary costs, are likely to remain at a disadvantage to cruise lines that are able to offer near unbeatable all-inclusive, air, meals and entertainment vacations.
“Still, even beyond these developments, it has become an especially competitive time for the hotel industry in the region.”
Mr. Ingraham said it was “critically important” that owners and operators ensure that their hotels are equipped with the amenities demanded and expected by visitors, and that guests leave properties believing that they received good value for money.”
Also in attendance at the event, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Neko Grant said, “Hosting Caribbean Marketplace is quite an auspicious start to the year for the Bahamas’ hospitality industry.
“A lot has changed on all fronts since The Bahamas last hosted Caribbean Marketplace,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that rooms on Paradise Island alone have almost doubled with the addition of several new facilities including the recently opened Cove and Reef condo resorts. New management at the Lynden Pindling International Airport, he added, has commenced renovations there.
The new LPIA is to be constructed over three phases to be completed on schedule in 2012.
Mr. Grant noted that the Cable Beach strip is undergoing transformation under the direction of the Bahama Mar Resort “to revitalize and upgrade that resort community into a venue to rival Paradise Island.”
“The government has given the billion dollar Albany Project at South Ocean the green light, which will transform the south-west area of New Providence,” he said.
“On Grand Bahama Island a number of projects are currently underway inclusive of the Ginn Company’s development on the western end of the island.
“Last year the Ministry of Tourism commenced laying the foundation for ‘Community-based Tourism’, aspects of which were highlighted during the recent African Diaspora Heritage Trail Conference held here to further develop heritage and cultural tourism attractions around The Bahamas,” he said.